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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Vert Stadium opened in 2007 with a capacity of 1100, but includes berm and field seating areas that can more than double the seating when needed. The facility consists of the Witcher Athletic Center and an artificial Mondoturf playing field with a track around it, and is used for High Point University's men's and women's soccer, lacrosse, and track & field teams.
The Witcher Athletic Center houses the concession stands, bathrooms, and ticket counters for Vert Stadium, but also includes locker rooms, a training center, an academic center, a media and production area, and two suites - one for the athletic director and one for the president of the university. All in all, Vert Stadium is a beautiful facility, and really helps put High Point soccer on the map.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concessions at Vert Stadium are exactly what you might expect from a small venue - not a ton of options, but a good mix that will satisfy most tastes. Both concession stands offer the same items, and since there are two stands the lines are never very long.
Food choices include hot dogs, pizza, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, chips, candy, and cotton candy. Prices range from $2 to $8, but they have combos which are a really good value - for example, their $20 family pack includes 4 hot dogs, 4 sodas, and 4 bags of chips, which would cost $32 if you bought each item individually.
Drink options include bottled soda, water, PowerAde, and Jamba Juice, all of which are $3 except the Jamba Juice, which is $5. There is no alcohol available at Vert Stadium.
The only weird thing about the concessions is that they charge sales tax, which I have never seen before - usually the taxes are built into the prices on the board.
Vert Stadium is an absolutely amazing facility with lots of great amenities, and the sightlines are perfect, including a great view of the scoreboard from all the seats.
For starters, all of the grandstand seating is purple chair backs, painted to match the Panther's color scheme. In addition, at the top of the concourse there are several umbrella-topped tables (also purple-themed), which fans can sit at to watch the game. Even more impressive, however, is the whole row of rocking chairs behind the last row of chair backs, making this probably THE most comfortable seating you will ever find at a sports venue. The southwest corner even has a berm area complete with barbecue grills - yes, barbecue grills - so fans can actually have a cookout while they cheer on the Panthers! While this barbecue area is technically reserved for students, it is still an awesome feature.
Besides the purple, there is plenty of other themed décor around Vert Stadium. For example the letters H-P-U are spelled out in bushes on the hill overlooking the field. There are also several giant statues of Panthers, one of which is right outside the front entrance. In addition, the field and track both have "High Point University" painted on them in large letters - all of this themed décor really adds to the atmosphere here, and really makes fans swell with pride in their team. Check out some of the decor here:
In addition to all of the great décor, Vert Stadium also has some pretty impressive architecture, most notably the athletic center with its beautiful brickwork and Toscana columns. The stadium is also surrounded by an iron fence topped with gold pointed caps and accented with brick, and there is even a moat. Plus there is a stone and brick wall behind the dugouts, lined with shrubs, which is a great backdrop for the turf. It is obvious that a lot of money was spent to make this a great facility, and it would be very difficult not to be impressed.
In terms of fan engagement, the staff does some fun things to draw people in. One example is Neighborhood Night, where those in the High Point community are invited out to fellowship with their neighbors during a soccer game, with food and giveaways provided, as well as free admission. The High Point Fire Department also makes an appearance so kids can enjoy seeing the trucks. Events like this really help draw in fans, but also serve to improve the university's standing in the community.
While not a big town, there are plenty of things to do in High Point if you come for the day or weekend.
If you want to grab a bite to eat before or after the game, there are a couple of great restaurants near Vert Stadium. Located outside of the nearby mall, Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery offers craft beers and steaks, burgers, salads, sandwiches, and pizza, plus a few signature southern dishes like chicken & waffles or shrimp & grits. Chili's Grill & Bar is also outside the mall, and offers traditional American fare with a Mexican twist.
If you plan to be in High Point for a while, there are several attractions in town, some of which you will see signs for as you drive in. Castle McCulloch in nearby Jamestown is an event center that is mostly used for weddings and receptions, but it also boasts a restored gold mill. The mill is listed as a national historic site, and is available for tours as long as you make a reservation in advance.
Besides the mill, High Point is also a mecca for furniture shoppers, with dozens of stores offering high quality pieces at close to factory prices. You can also find the World's Largest Chest of Drawers, complete with socks hanging out, which is a fun item to snap a pic of. There are also several hotels to the west of Vert Stadium, along Highway 1993 - the Radisson is attached to the convention center, and actually has very low rates, while the J.H. Adams Inn is a little more upscale.
On a typical night at Vert Stadium there will be more than enough fans to fill the parking lots, but generally nowhere near enough to fill the grandstand - attendance only averages a couple hundred per game. Still, the fans are solid and a lot of them wear team gear, and they seem to enjoy watching their team. A lot of High Point's soccer games are on weeknights, which probably impacts the attendance.
It is easy enough to get to Vert Stadium, since a couple of major freeways go through High Point (I-85 and I-74). High Point University is located in a very nice neighborhood, and the athletic fields are outside of the gated section of campus, so visitors can come and go as they please.
There is a parking lot right outside the front entrance, but this lot tends to fill up quickly, so you will need to arrive early. Otherwise, overflow parking is available at the Food Lion a few blocks away, or you can park on one of the side streets to the south of the field. On the plus side, parking is free no matter where you go.
Once you get inside Vert Stadium, everything you need is located on the concourse above the grandstand - bathrooms, concessions, and the ticket windows. The lines are not long, and there are plenty of stalls in the bathrooms, which are modern and clean. Those with special needs can sit on the concourse behind the last row of chair backs, so there is no need for a ramp into the stands.
Attending a game at Vert Stadium is a great value for the money. The stadium really is a great facility, with cool architecture, comfortable seats, especially the rocking chairs, and lots of fun HPU décor.
Tickets are only $5, and if you really want you could actually watch for free from the grassy areas around the outside, and not enter the stadium per se. But parking is free, and concessions are very reasonable, especially if you get the combo meals, so even at $5 admission it is still a great deal, and a really fun experience.
The panther statues and the H-P-U on the hill are nice touches, and the rocking chairs are a perfect choice for this, the furniture capital of North Carolina. The purple décor all over the place really makes the stadium pop, and the architecture is phenomenal. High Point is also not a bad place to visit.
If you are any kind of soccer fan, you should take time to visit Vert Stadium when you have the chance. This may be the nicest college soccer facility I have ever been to, with great scenery, lots of sights to take in, cheap eats, and a good team of late. Vert Stadium is so nice, in fact, that it would be worth walking around even if there was no game going on.
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